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RSTB Best of 2017

So this year is drawing to a close, or almost, we’re still a few weeks away from pushing the broken pieces of 2017 into the trash. There’s no real solace from a lot of the events that took place this year, but, independent of any current events, music has been kind to us all this year. These are the records that spent the most time on the turntable over here. Yeah, I know its kind of a lot, but there were far too many good ones that haven’t been getting the shouts they need elsewhere. Lets say this serves as both a best of and a most overlooked in one go. If you enjoy ’em, buy ’em if you can. Don’t do them the disservice of just bumping up the streaming numbers.

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John Dwyer on Eddie Harris – I Need Some Money

There have been a few artists that remain the cornerstones of RSTB coverage, and without a doubt those are ones I’ve had on the wishlist for the Hidden Gems feature since it started up a couple of years back. Teetering near the top of that list has always been the madman John Dwyer. Thee Oh Sees have spanned 20 releases now and show no sign of slowing. Dwyer’s seared psych has always shown nods to some deeper cuts in the ’60s canon, and his latest LP stripped things back to a decidedly glycerine, serene version of the sound. I’d expected maybe a run towards that route, but that’s what keeps these pieces so interesting. Catching up with Dwyer, he gave an account of how Eddie Harris’ 1975 album I Need Some Money came into his life and the long-lasting impact it’s had on him.

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Event Rundown: Basilica Soundscape 2017

I’m not usually one for live coverage. There are those that do it well and photographers with a better eye and I’ll usually leave it to them. This, however, being my fourth year in attendance at Soundscape in a town I’ve called home for as long, it feels fitting to at least weigh in. This might be even more true given that the mass that descends on Hudson is so often swept up in telling you to check out this “cute” hamlet nestled by the river that they forget to stop and reflect on who and what Hudson really is. So, while I’ve always appreciated Soundscape for giving an easily accessible glut of great artists (both literary and musical) it’s often hard not to grit at the parade of weekend goths gawkin’ up real estate prices during Fall Musical Recess 2017 sponsored by Warby Parker clear frames.

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Omni’s Frankie Broyles on China Crisis – Difficult Shapes & Passive Rhythms – Some People Think It’s Fun To Entertain

After splitting from Deerhunter, Frankie Broyles has taken a tumble through post-punk’s most angular avenues with his band Omni. The band’s debut for Trouble in Mind was a loving run at Television, The Voidoids and Wire, a sound which they only crystallize on their follow-up this year. For the latest Hidden Gems, Boyles takes a run at an album he feels has been left out of the public conversation, the synth-pop debut from Brits China Crisis. If the album’s cover is any indication, they’ve at least lifted a bit of aesthetic vision from the band but Frankie explains how the music has seeped into his own life below.

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Zola Jesus on Magdalith – S/T

There have been a lot of artists that have popped up repeatedly on RSTB over the many years, but few with the consistency of Zola Jesus. Nika Danilova’s first appearance was in 2008 on a year end list of 7″s, marking her “Souer Sewer” cut as one to watch in the coming years. Seems like she’s not only been one to watch, but one to anticipate with great hopes as each release nears. Her work has set a high bar not only for those enamored with the dark strains of industrial and goth but for any electronic or pop record in a given year. Her latest, Okovi is one of her most personal albums and a stunning reminder of her power as a vocalist – confronting tragedy with a strident battalion of sound. For her entry to Hidden Gems, Danilova has picked a record far from the beaten track, the 1973 eponymous work of French Gregorian singer Magdalith, whose works echo Zola Jesus’ own balance of desolation and heart-stopping vocals.

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Flesh World’s Jess Scott on Section 25 – Love & Hate

Jess Scott’s membership in the under-sung, shambolic trio Brilliant Colors would cement her status around here alone, but she’s doubled down on great bands, heading up the equally great Flesh World. Their second LP is on the way from Dark Entries and it’s an intoxicating mix of brittle, anxious post-punk and dreampop that will undoubtedly convert a few more fans to their cult of sound. As usual with Hidden Gems, I’ve asked Jess to elaborate on an album that she finds underrepresented or overlooked in the halls of musical accolades. She’s dug deeper into the Factory files than most cursory listeners with a dive into Section 25’s 1988 album Love & Hate.

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Wand’s Cory Hanson on Miles Davis – Get Up With It

There have been many bands that I’ve seen evolve here at RSTB, and with varying results, for sure. Wand’s evolution from fuzzbomb psych stewards to their current incarnation as archivists of alternative’s more ambitious corners is a journey that’s been exciting to experience from a listener’s vantage. I’d had a missed connection with the band’s Cory Hanson when he ventured into psych-folk for a solo endeavor last year on Drag City, but this time around the fates have aligned to get in a Gems feature on the verge of the release of their fourth album, Plum. For the uninitiated, Hidden Gems explores an album that the artist finds underrepresented in the canon of popular culture – the kind that falls through the cracks and deserves a shining light. Here Cory Hanson explores Miles Davis’ 1974 double album Get Up With It, explaining how it came into his life and how it’s had an effect on his own songwriting.

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Cable Ties’ Jenny McKechnie on Au Pairs – Playing With A Different Sex

As far as new artists in 2017 go, I’d say that Cable Ties are taking top honors right now. In their home country of Australia they’re raking in accolades and topping out mid-year charts, a trend that should hopefully catch on worldwide if there’s any justice. The band’s Jenny McKechnie is pulling triple duty as a cultural force, playing in newcomers Wet Lips alongside the Ties and co-heading a new label, Hysterical Records, alongside Amanda Vitartas of Future Popes and Grace Kindellan of Wet Lips. While Cable Ties is a taut musical force in its own right, much of the credit must be given to McKechnie’s vocal prowess and biting lyrics, both of which have drawn comparisons to crucial feminist punk outfits like X-Ray Spex or Sleater-Kinney. As usual with Hidden Gems I’ve asked Jenny to pick a record that’s been a bit overlooked in her opinion and tell how it came into her life and impacted her music. She gives her take on the Au Pairs’ ever resonant debut Playing With a Different Sex below.

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Shannon Shaw on Langley Schools Music Project

I’m thrilled to have garage icon Shannon Shaw as the latest contributor to the Hidden Gems series today. Shannon should be familiar to most through her work with Shannon and the Clams, and as the secret soul weapon in Hunx (formerly with his Punx). She’s a bastion of badass, a dynamic visual artist, and as even a cursory listen to The Clams would attest a superb appreciator of ’60s sounds. The series, as always, takes a look at albums lost in the cracks, underappreciated and looking for some love. This week, Shaw points some light on Hans Fenger’s collection of children’s choral explorations of ’60s pop. The album has found its own cult over the years, including among many of the artists covered. Shannon lets us in on how this gem came into her life and how it’s impacted her own music.

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Mikey Young on Third World War – S/T

There have been a lot of names on my wishlist for this feature, but standing near the top has been Mikey Young. If you’re unfamiliar, then you clearly reside outside of Australia, and have little to no interest in what’s currently pouring out of nation’s coffers lately. Young is a driving force of two of the best bands of the past decade, Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Total Control. Add to that a hand behind the boards on pretty much every other indie release that hits the shelves and it solidifies the fact that the man is beyond integral to the new wave of Australian indie. As with all entries to Hidden Gems, this feature seeks to find an album that’s been overlooked by the majority and shine a little light on it. Below Young tells how the proto-punk debut from Third World War came into his life and the impact its had on his own works.

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